Google Engage For SEOs

Something caught my attention while in Gmail today. Google had an ad targeting SEOs to get them to use Google Adwords for their clients. Seemed reasonable, but I was a little surprised by what I found.

Here’s the Google Engage Ad I saw:

Google Enage Program for SEOs
Google Enage Program for SEOs

I clicked on the link and ended up on the homepage for Google Engage. Immediately you are greeted with the following message:

Are you a search engine optimization (SEO) professional that helps small businesses with their online presence?
The Google Engage program offers search engine optimization professionals like yourself the training and tools that will help you offer AdWords services to your clients.

Clearly there is no SEO engagement here, but that is fine. They simply want more Adwords clients. Reading further through the page, I was surprised to see the page was written by someone who used English as a 2nd language:

“As a member, you will get the following benefits: Trainings to build and enhance your AdWords skills”
“By enhancing your online skill set and knowledge of Google products, you’ll be more attractive to potential clients and more beneficial to your existing ones.”
“Register today and begin further growing your business with Google!”
“Google Engage has already helped thousands of businesses and individuals around the world establish great business opportunities.”

Do I want to be trained on bidding for English words by an organization that uses “trainings” on the most important page for their program? Reading through the entire page, the choice of words reminds me of some of the poor content creation attempts I see on the web that were written by agencies based in the Philippines who will write articles for $0.05 a piece.

To make matters worse, the only customer quote they could come up with was from WEBSEM based out of Israel. They didn’t even list his name, nor did they link to his site. A search for WEBSEM agency doesn’t work, but WEBSEM Israel gives me a LinkedIn page. The only person close to being a “Founder” attached to the company is Asaf P who lists himself as the Operating manager. His link goes to www.websem.co.il which, according to Google, is completely in Hebrew. Of course, translating it to English produces poor results.

There’s nothing wrong with using a customer quote out of Israel, but I found myself looking at the URL several times to see if I, in fact, am on Google.com because there were very few signals that made me feel like the Google Engage program was legitimate.

But I did find this video:

/End Rant – Okay, I know I’m picking on Google Engage, but I do think they could get better “engagement” if they ran their homepage text through a fluent English-speaking editor & marketer.

Some SEM agencies will be put off by the Google Engage program (Is Google Trying to Steal their customers?). I specialize in only Organic SEO Consulting and a couple of my customers already spend over a million dollars each month on AdWords, so my participation would in the program would primarily be motivated by the $100 credit I could give to some of my smaller customers.

Google Blue Arrow Navigation Issues

Over on my SEO Naturale consulting site I added a post about the little blue marker you may be seeing on Google SERPs. The little arrow or triangle was added to help with keyboard navigation on Google (which few people will probably use). The problem is that it will likely cause false paid search clicks, poor user experience, and extra weight to the number 1 listing in Google (whether it be paid or organic).

Read the full article to discover: Google Blue Arrow Issues

Dustin Interviewed About SEO

The Search Engine Journal was kind enough to interview me about various SEO topics, including: evolution of SEO, using UGC to drive SEO, Domainers vs. SEOs, and making the transition from in-house SEO to out-house SEO (working out of my house as an SEO consultant).
Dustin Woodard
I didn’t realize it until now, but this is my 2nd interview with the Search Engine Journal–the first was over 3 years ago. If you dig reading about me 1/10th as much as I do, then I suggest you check out both interviews:

Dustin Woodard 2010 SEJ Interview
by Todd Mintz
Dustin Woodard 2007 SEJ Interview
by Jessica Bowman

Besides learning more about me, I think you’ll find some helpful SEO tips inside both interviews.

Wondering What t.co is?

Soon many people may be wondering where all these links that have http://t.co/ in them are and if they can be trusted. The short answer is that they are auto-generated by Twitter as it is their new self-built URL shortening service & they can be trusted as much, or as little as other shortening services.

what is t.coBackground on the t.co Domain
You may recognize .co as being the TLD for domains for the country of Columbia. Colombian domains have long had rules that they must be registered by Colombian-citizens only, much to the dismay of domainers, as .co typos are far more common then other accidental domain TLD truncations like .cm (Cameroon) or .ne (Nigeria). I’d expect far more people accidentally type in “Amazon.co” & hit the enter button before the “m” then leave out the “o” in .com (Amazon.cm).

In early 2010, Columbia decided to open it up registration to anyone (doesn’t open to public until 7/20/2010), starting with registered trademark owners and companies that apply to be “.co founders” (companies that are going to do something neat that helps the validity of .co domains). So, Twitter was granted t.co and is using it for its built-in URL shortening service.

Background on Default Twitter URL Shorteners
Due to the 140 character limit in Twitter, users have long used URL shortening services so they can still say something when sharing a long URL. For example, the post your are reading has this URL:
http://www.webconnoisseur.com/blog/twitter/wondering-what-t-co-is/
If I tweet about it, I’m already using up 66 characters, meaning I only have 74 left to comment on the topic & if anyone retweets me, they’ll lose another 19 character, including spaces by including: RT@webconnoisseur, leaving them with only 55 characters to work with. Instead, I used bit.ly and only used 20 characters: http://bit.ly/tdotco

Many different URL shortening services sprung up, but Twitter did choose URL shortening services automatically for anyone using long URLs. They started with one of the oldest ones: tinyurl, then eventually defaulted to bit.ly. Both services were provided by other companies. Hence why it makes sense that Twitter finally created their own: t.co. Right now, t.co is live for direct messages (they used twt.tl for a few months), but will be rolled out for all tweets soon.

Another benefit of many URL shortenings services is analytics – they provide data on how many clicks your shortened link got, and in some cases, where they were shared. With t.co, Twitter said it would share analytics to companies using Twitter’s commercial services. It is unclear if they will also open data up to the general public.

t.co SEO Considerations
URLs shared on Twitter have long been no-followed, but the links are often spread throughout the internet outside of Twitter, even in places that follow the links (a blog post inspired by a link shared in Twitter, for example). This means the type of redirect the URL shortening service uses, matters for SEO. If it is a 301 redirect, the link can still pass a vote to the site or page, in the eyes of the search engines. A 302, however, doesn’t benefit the page or site. This is why I’ve long approved of clients using tinyurls or bit.ly, but not twurl (twurl.cc) and, until recently, told people to steer clear of Hootsuite generage links (ow.ly).

The good news is that I’ve tested t.co links and they are using 301 redirects, which means if the t.co link is spread around the internet, you may receive the SEO benefits.

Other Benefits of t.co

  • Malware Detection – Twitter will warn users about potentially dangerous links that use t.co
  • Set character length – t.co links will always be 20 characters
  • Full 140 characters – t.co links won’t count against the 140 characters available
  • Link intelligence – Twitter will learn much more about the links being shared on Twitter and can surface popular links in an algorithmic way

I wrote this post because I fully expect people will be caught by surprise when they start seeing t.co links everywhere – not just on Twitter, but on Facebook, email, texts, etc. If you read this post all the way through, you’re now an expert on the history of the t.co domain.

Using Twitter to Build Relationships With The Press

build relationship with press When you have major game-changing news or work for an incredibly popular company, having relationships with the press is easy. For the rest of us, there’s a right way and a wrong way to establish a relationship with the press.

Before I jump into techniques, I want to talk about tools. The good news is that web technology has opened up doors for any company, no matter how small, to establish a relationship with the press. Not only can you find the right journalist, but you can have a discussion and at the time when the journalist is most open to your expertise. In particular, there are two places you should certainly utilize to take advantage of press opportunities.

Using Twitter & LinkedIn for Press

Twitter is great for establishing a relationship with the press. Most journalists display their Twitter account on their publication. For example, the NY Times has a full page dedicated to their staff Twitter accounts. By performing simple and Advanced Twitter Searches, you can identify members of the press who are trying to solve a problem or want information for an upcoming column.

Below is a search I did on Twitter a while back where I used the terms “is about column next”. Take a look how powerful a search like this can be:

Journalists on Twitter

LinkedIn is a searchable Rolodex that not only helps you find journalists to reach out to, but shows you one’s in your network, meaning journalists that a friend of yours can introduce you to. Take a look at the advanced search I did for job title=”editor”:

Journalists on LinkedIn

Establishing a Relationship

tweet with journalistBesides performing smart searches, how do you actually establish a relationship with the press? It is fairly simple. Take a look at the pictures on the right.

One shows someone shouting. This is the default method that most people try to employ. The shout method. They are so excited about their own product, they forget that by default, most people aren’t. You can’t just beat the press over the head with your product. Hence, why you need to establish a relationship.

Instead, show the journalist the path that leads back to you. For example, if you sell organic beer, instead of shouting “we are one of only 3 companies selling organic beer in the U.S.,” establish a relationship by reaching out to them about their latest organic coffee story. You might mention:

“Thank you for the deep coverage of the organic coffee industry. I work in the organic beer industry and find the challenges are much the same. The one difference is that organic coffee beans are usually grown in 3rd world countries, whereas organic grain is usually obtained locally. The battle for organic beer brewers isn’t about preserving rain-forests or dealing with foreign governments, its about convincing local farmers to produce grain that can be certified organic.”

Hopefully you may have inspired a new article about organic beer brewing. Even if you didn’t, you might find yourself as a source on their upcoming article on local farmers.

Another great way to establish a relationship is to meet them in person. If you know they will be at an event or conference, try to attend and join in on a conversation with them (avoid talking about your company). Then, later on, when you message them, you can remind them where you first met.

Benefits of Establishing a Relationship With the Press

Besides an increased chance of getting coverage, investing in a relationship with the press has these benefits:

  • Repeat coverage – you’ll have a far greater likelyhood of obtaining press more then once
  • Direct contact to fix links in the article or add in missing links (very important for SEO)
  • Relationship extends beyond current publication – journalists may change jobs or companies, but you’ll still be connected.
  • If this kind of soft marketing isn’t your forte, consider hiring someone who has had success obtaining press with little to no budget, or hire someone with an editorial background as they’ll know exactly what a good and bad pitch looks like.